tv PBS News Hour PBS September 11, 2014 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: in his address to the nation, president obama laid out his plan to dismantle islamic state militants in iraq and syria. we talk with national security adviser, susan rice. get a republican response from congressman buck mckeon, chairman of the house armed services committee. plus, full analysis of the strategy. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. also ahead this thursday, the n.f.l. hires a former f.b.i. director to get to the bottom of the ray rice domestic violence case. >> woodruff: plus, 13 years later, pressure mounts to
declassify pages of the 9/11 investigation that spell out saudi arabia's ties to the al- qaeda hijackers. >> one entire section, 28 pages, that was taken out entirely. and the bush administration justified it on national security grounds. >> ifill: those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> i've been around long enough to recognize the people who are out there owning it. the ones getting involved, staying engaged. they are not afraid to question the path they're on. because the one question they never want to ask is, "how did i end up here?" i started schwab with those people. people who want to take ownership of their investments, like they do in every other aspect of their lives.
>> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: president obama picked up support at home and abroad today, for the growing battle against the islamic state in iraq and syria. it came the day after his televised address to the nation. our chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner reports. >> if you threaten america, you
will find no safe haven. >> woodruff: with that stark warning, the president last night issued a call to arms against islamic state militants both for americans and potential allies. >> america will be joined by a broad coalition of partners. already, allies are flying planes with us over iraq; sending arms and assistance to iraqi security forces and the syrian opposition; sharing intelligence and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid. >> reporter: and today, in saudi arabia, secretary of state john kerry appealed to arab and gulf leaders for their support and participation in the effort. >> this is a moment, which is one of those rare opportunities in history, where leaders making the right choices, can actually bend the arc of history in the right direction. in the goals-- direction of the goals that we share.
peace and prosperity and security for all. >> reporter: the saudis and other arab states pledged to stop the flow of foreign fighters and funding to the islamic state group. they also talked of joining a military campaign as appropriate. in syria, reaction to president obama's address was mixed. the western-backed syrian national coalition welcomed the prospect of expanding u.s. air strikes into syria even though they aren't to be directed against their number one target, bashar assad's government. but a syrian government minister warned against any action without syria's consent. >> ( translated ): any action of any type without the approval of syrian government is an aggression against syria. hence there is no possibility of talking about the syrian government's response to any aggression against syria unless it happens. but in international law and political terms there must be a cooperation with syria and coordination with syria and there must be a syrian approval of any action whether it is military or not. >> reporter: the russian foreign
ministry went further, saying an air campaign over syria would have to have u.n. approval. >> the president of the united states has clearly declared the possibility of us military air- strikes on the positions of islamic state on the territory of the syrian arab republic without the consent of the legitimate government. such an action without a corresponding u.n. security council decision would be an act of aggression. >> reporter: back in washington, president obama focused on winning congressional support. last night he said he has all the authority needed for beefed- up airstrikes. but he urged congress to approve an overt program to upgrade and professionalize the moderate rebel factions in syria facing islamic state pressure. >> we have ramped up our military assistance to the syrian opposition. tonight, i again call on congress to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters. >> reporter: for the most part, republican and democratic leaders voiced initial support. senate majority leader harry reid: >> what we need to do is make sure that we can take care of what we need to do and that is
train and equip the rebels and make sure that we don't do anything that is rash. we have to be very calm and deliberate, and we as a country have to pull together on this. >> reporter: house speaker john boehner likewise called for giving the president what he's asking for. at the same time, he said many republicans have doubts about the strategy against the islamic state group, also known as isil. >> i'm not sure we're doing all that we can do to defeat this terrorist threat, and if our goal is to eliminate isil, there is a lot of doubt whether the plan that was outlined by the president last night is enough to accomplish that mission. >> reporter: other republicans said they still believe it will take u.s. combat troops to defeat the militants something the president said last night he will not authorize.
we'll hear the perspectives of the white house and a top house republican on all of this right after the news summary. >> ifill: in other news today, the nation marked the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and honored the nearly 3,000 people killed that day. in washington, president obama led a moment of silence at the white house then joined defense secretary chuck hagel and military leaders at the pentagon. >> 13 years after small minds conspired to break us, america stands tall and america stands proud. and guided by the values that sustain us, we will only grow stronger. generations from now, no matter the trial, no matter the challenge, america will always be america.
>> ifill: this year, for the first time, the national september 11 memorial museum is now open at the site where the twin towers once stood. and, a new tower-- one world trade center-- is nearly complete. >> woodruff: syrian rebels linked to al-qaeda have released 45 u.n. peacekeepers from fiji whom they'd held captive for two weeks. the troops were captured by al- nusra front fighters in the golan heights, a disputed buffer zone between syria and israel. today a convoy of u.n. vehicles carried the peacekeepers back to a u.n. base in northern israel. u.n. officials said they were all in good condition. >> ifill: in south africa, a judge ruled today that track star oscar pistorius cannot be convicted of murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend. but the double-amputee olympian may yet be convicted of a lesser crime. rohit kachroo of independent television news reports from pretoria.
>> reporter: evidence of murder that had taken months to build was dismantled in moments, and this was the consequenc e. >> the accused is charged with premeditated murder. in respect of this charge, the evidence is purely circumstantial. >> reporter: she agreed there was in planning, no plot to kill his girlfriend, and in court, the emotion now was of man who learned that he is not guilty of the gravest charges against him. but the judge finished by warning that she'll reveal tomorrow whether he is guilty of manslaughter. >> he failed to take any step to avoid the resulting death. i am of the view that the accused acted too hastily and used excessive force. in the second sentence, it is clear that his conduct was negligent. >> reporter: he could still be given a severe sentence for killing reeva steenkamp or for the three gun-related charges that he faces.
he left court to hear the sound of cheering fans, but he'll return tomorrow, when more of those remaining questions at the heart of this case will be answered. >> ifill: prosecutors had argued that pistorius intentionally killed steenkamp after an argument. the athlete testified he mistook her for an intruder when he fired through a closed bathroom door. >> woodruff: the european union announced today it's imposing new penalties on russia for aiding rebels in ukraine. as of tomorrow, expanded sanctions will target russia's energy and high-technology sectors and freeze the assets of more top government officials. the united states plans to announce new sanctions on russia tomorrow. >> ifill: on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average lost more than 19 points to close at 17,049; the nasdaq rose five points to close well over
4,591; and the s&p 500 added one point, to finish at 1,997. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour. reactions to and analysis of president obama's plan to cripple the islamic state group. the n.f.l. investigates its own handling of the ray rice scandal. and what do still-classified pages from the 9/11 investigation say about saudi arabia's links to al-qaeda? >> ifill: the president's plan to go to war against islamic militants in iraq and syria dominated much of the debate in washington and in the region today. we begin ours with national security advisor susan rice. i talked to her from the white house a short time ago. joining us. i want the start by asking you whether the mission the president described last night has any geographic limits. >> well, you heard the president say, gwen, that anybody who seeks the attack the united states anywhere in the world
will find no safe haven. now, this is a fight against isil, a terrorist organization that's most active in syria and iraq, and the president made clear that we have a comprehensive strategy to take the fight to isil and to roll them back through degrading them and ultimately destroying them in iraq and to the extent necessary in syria. the president made clear that he would not hesitate to act in syria if necessary to roll back isil. given the safe haven there, it is in all likelihood necessary. >> ifill: as part of the president's four-part strategy that he outlined last night, he talked about arming the free syrian army, the moderates who we had declined to support or arm before. what's different now? >> well, in fact, gwen, the united states has been providing a degree of military support to the moderate opposition for almost two years now. back in june, the president asked congress for $500 million as part of a broader regional
counter-terrorism partnership fund to provide direct, lethal support and training to the moderate syrian opposition. now that we are also in the context of having to deal with isil and degrade and destroy them, it's critically important that to do that in syria we have a partner on the ground. in iraq we do have a partner on the ground and, in fact, the president was very deliberate about waiting until a new iraqi government was formed that was inclusive and can represent the interests of all of iraq. now we have the capacity and the ability to work with the iraqi security forces and the kurds in iraq as our partner on the ground. the analog in syria requires that there be a ground force that we can work with. the free syrian army is the best option that we have in that it is moderate. it is fighting isil. it is also facing the fight from assad.
it's been a partner to the united states. we have experience working with them, and we want to continue that. >> ifill: you mentioned assad. is there any concern at the white house that by basically allying ourselves with him and with iran and with hezbollah against isil that you are aiding your own enemy? >> gwen, we're in the aiding the enemy, nor are we alying ourselves with syria, the assad regime, iran or any other partner. we may have a common enemy in the fight against isil. i think we should be candid about recognizing that isil has no state support, threatens all the states in the region and threatens people, including americans in the region and threatens europeans and has issued threats against the united states of america. so we have a common enemy, but that doesn't mean we are allied or coordinating or working together in any deliberate way. in fact, we're not. >> ifill: if this is worth
doing, why isn't it worth putting boots on the ground, combat forces on the ground in syria or iraq? >> because, gwen, i think we've learned that that can be counterproductive. and at the end of the day, even after ten years of combat in iraq, where our men and women served with great bravery and suffered enormous losses and sacrifices, if you don't have a government that is prepared to sustain those gains through the right policies that are inclusive and representative of all the people, but also through maintaining a military capacity, those gains can be quickly diminished. so in this instance, rather than replicate that experience, which was very costly, the preferred method is to build up the iraqi capacity, both the political capacity as well as the military capacity, to take this fight to isil and sustain it. it is the iraqis themselves and indeed it will ultimately be the syrians themselveses that have to control their own territory
and have the push out this threat, this cancer that is threatening them most approximately. >> ifill: what if congress will not approve the funding that the president has requested in spite of some positive-sounding signs from capitol hill today? >> well, certainly we're hopeful that congress will recognize the necessity. it's part of a comprehensive strategy of enabling the united states to provide training and support to a moderate opposition in syria. without that, the united states doesn't have a partner on the ground. and i think most members of congress agree that it's not preferable to put american boots on the ground in this region again in a combat role, and therefore we need to have a viable partner that over time can join in this fight against isil. so i think when members of congress weigh the alternatives and understand that to accomplish the mission, we need a the ground, i think they'll see that the best alternative in that regard is, in fact, the moderate
opposition. >> white house national security advisor susan rice, thank you. >> thank you, gwen. >> ifill: for a republican response from capitol hill, i also spoke with house armed services committee chairmen buck mckeon of california. congressman mckeon, thank you for joining us. you said in the speech today at the american enterprise institute that after last night's speech the president is "finally waking up to what must be done to stop this evil." is it enough? >> enough? i think it's just barely a start. but it does make a change. you know, it was just a few weeks ago when the president was calling isil junior varsity. i think now he's come to the point to realize what the rest of the world realizes, that they are a grave threat. i just came back from the middle east. i melt with the leadership over there. they're all very concerned. they want to go after... king
abdullah told me he's ready to go right away. they want to go right now. they understand how serious this threat is. i'm glad to see that the president is starting to get that message. what we're going to have to do is make sure that we go in with an adequate force, that we're already serious about finishing something that we start. >> ifill: house speaker john boehner said today we have one commander-in-chief and he supports, as far as it goes, the president's initiative so far. do you agree with him? >> i said in my speech today that as long as the president's engaged and moving on this, i want to support him. he is the commander-in-chief. but he does have military leaders, and he should listen to their advice. i know that there's been a story reported that the commander of the area asked for more ground troops to give us a robust position in iraq. and he denied that. >> ifill: well, let's talk --
until the president is fully engageed -- and i hope he will be. i hope this doesn't become a speech last night like we've seen in the past, and then he kind of fades and goes off into something else. this is something he needs to be engaged in. it's the most important thing confronting him as commander-in-chief. we need to win on this. >> ifill: do you believe that isil represents an immediate threat to the domestic security? >> sure they do. we have probably 100 fighters from america over there right now. two of them were killed a week or two ago in a firefight over there. one of them was a ten-year veteran working in air traffic control. he could have used his... he could have done something here. we know that a lot of those people have... and a lot of
people that come from europe have passports that can come... they can come into this country without visas. that's an immediate threat. they could be here right now. >> do you believe that congress will provide the kind of financial support that the president has asked for, especially for arming the syrian moderates? >> you know, we're talking about that now. we were ready to vote on a continuing resolution today to fund the government for the rest of the year. that was the plan. just before the bill was introduced, the president called chairman rogers and threw in this additional request that he wanted us to grant authority to do training in saudi arabia. and that has made leadership pull the bill and give people time to digest that. and now we'll probably have that vote next week. and i'm hopeful that we will give the president what he needs. i think it's incumbent upon us
to at least give him what he asks and then do the oversight and make sure that he is holding, you know, that we hold his feet to the fire and get this done because you can't send these troops out there without the support they need. >> how long do you believe that americans should be expecting us to stay involved in this latest conflict? >> until we win. >> ifill: congressman buck mckeon, chairman of the house armed services committee, thank you so much. >> woodruff: we get a broader assessment of the president's plan now from: steven hadley, he was national security advisor to president george w. bush and now has his own consulting company. richard haass was the director of policy planning at the state department during the george w. bush administration. he's currently the president of the council on foreign relations. micheèle flournoy was under secretary of defense for policy
during the first term of the obama administration. she's now chief executive officer at the center for a new american security. and retired army colonel andrew bacevich is professor emeritus of international relations and history at boston university. his latest book is "breach of trust: how americans failed their soldiers and their country. we welcome all four of you back to the program. i want to go around and ask all of you to start with whether you think the president has laid out a plan that is headed in the right direction. terri williams-flournoy, -- michelle flournoy, you first. >> i think absolutely. the president laid out a comprehensive, clear strategy. he shared a lot of resolve, determination to put together an international coalition to go after the isil threat. i think the real challenge here is the devil's in the details. and as has been alluded to by many commentators, making this work on the syrian side of the border will be a lot harder than making it work on the iraqi
side. >> woodruff: we'll get to that. stephen hadley, overall, is this a plan that sounds like it's doing the right thing? >> i think so. i think the president had a very good night last night. i think, as michele said, he laid out a clear assessment of the risk, what he wanted to do, and he reminded the american people that america is uniquely positioned and really the only country that can put this together. the question will be: is this a one-time speech, or will he continue to talk to the american people about the importance of this issue? and will they have an implementation and execution plan that works? i think the appointment of general allen to coordinate this is a very good sign. >> woodruff: that's retired general john allen, who as we reported a few minutes ago, the president has announced will be heading up the overall effort. colonel bacevich, what about you, the overall plan the president's outlined, what do you make of it? >> well, it's not a comprehensive strategy. let's understand that isis
emerged because of certain conditions in this region -- disorder, dysfunction, alienation, the residue of european colonialism. and even if we succeed in destroying isis, and i certainly hope we do, those conditions will persist, and therefore, when isis goes away, it will be followed by another equivalent threat to the region. what we are end in here is a game of whack-a-mole, and that does not qualify as a comprehensive strategy. >> richard haass, how do you see it? >> well, i applaud the fact that the president expanded the purposes of what we're doing. it's no longer simply to protect american personnel or humanitarian concerns, but essentially it recognizes isis for the strategic threat that it is to both the region and to the united states and the world. and again, i support the expansion geographically. the idea that you can't allow them a sanctuary in syria or
anywhere else. the real challenge or problem as i see it, and many have alluded to it, is that if the writes is somewhat successful from the air, the question is whether we can supplement or complement that success on the ground. in iraq we have some potential partners. the big question mark is the iraqi government and its forces. in syria, there's a much bigger challenge. the last thing we want to do i push back isis only to have the assad government fill the space. and i am sceptical that the moderate or secular syrian opposition is going to be ready or organized any time soon. so i would put a much greater emphasis on trying to get ground support from local tribesmen, sunni or kurds, and i would also put much more pressure on some of the arab countries to put together their own pan-arab force to work with us on the ground. >> woodruff: i do want to get to syria, but i also want to come back, michele flournoy, to
what andrew bacevich just said, that this is not a strategy, it's whack-a-mole, that isis is there, it's a persistent force that's on the ground. with this kind of strategy, the united states is not going to be able to eliminate it. >> i do think it's true there are fundamental conditions in the region that are giving rise to these violent extremist groups, but i think the president's strategy is broader. you saw him withhold or hold back on fully engaging with promising air strikes, aid to iraqi forces, et cetera. until we had the formation of a more inclusive iraqi government. because that is key to taking an alienated sunni population, which created the sort of opening for isil to come into iraq, and trying to move them back into being part of iraqi society, into the government and so forth. so that political change has been huge, and now that that's happened and the formation of a
more inclusive government is under way, that opens the door to much more support on the iraqi side of the border. >> andrew bacevich, what about that? why doesn't that make this strategy something that could work in iraq? >> well, i think the whole discussion ignores a set of facts that are staring us in the face. and the key facts are that efforts on the part of the united states to use military power to bring, what, stability, democracy, to this region of the world have not worked. if anything, our efforts have actually fostered greater instability. so to imagine that now trying once again, albeit this time relying only on american air power, with proxies on the ground, to imagine that this is going to produce a significantly better outcome strikes me as frankly silly. >> stephen hadley, how do you answer that? >> well, i think that, you know, it is one thing to say there's
no military solution to this problem. and that is true. there needs to be a comprehensive solution that addresses political, economic, social and other factors. but when you're dealing with a group like isil, you're not going to have a successful strategy if it doesn't have a military element. if you don't have a military element, then basically isil is going to hold and expand its territory. so what we need is a comprehensive approach, getting an inclusive iraqi government, helping that government politically and economically alike is an important element of it. but when you're dealing with folks like isil, you're going to have to have a military element. we should rely as much as we can on the iraqi people and the various arms that they have to get the job done, but they can't succeed without our support in terms of intelligence, training, special forces and air power. >> and richard haass, as you were just saying a moment ago, you think syria is an essential
piece of this strategy and that the u.s. needs to give serious thought to how it works alongside or in some manner with president assad. spell out for us what you have in mind. >> happy to do this. just give me 30 seconds on the other. what was interesting to me about the president's speech last night is what he didn't say, and one of the things he didn't say is he's going to try to make the middle east safe for democracy. we're not talking about that. i think the united states has widely lowered some of its ambitions there. in terms of syria, my own view is that we need a partner on the ground. as i said before, i think there are some possibilities. what i would probably do, though, is two things. one is with the syrian government. i would say they have the less urgent problem for the united states. they are a local threat. they are not a global threat. so i would essentially have some kind of tacit arrangement temporarily for the time being where mr. assad should be
allowed to remain, if you, will as mayor of the allloyd aspects of the country, but we need to be able to act with somewhat of a free hand against isis in the majority of the country. if mr. assad tries the take advantage of any of our attacks on isis, then he would be putting himself into the line of fire. and i would then diplomatically talk to countries like iran and russia to try to get an understanding about how we are going to try to pursue isis, bringing in the sunnis and others, without having it be an advantage for mr. assad. what's in it if mr. assad is temporarily he can survive in the part of syria he controls. >> woodruff: michele flournoy, richard haass is going further than the president. why wouldn't the president go that far? >> the principle reason not to look directly at assad beyond the lack of legitimacy to lead
his own country is the fact if you did that, you would basically lose the very arab coalition we're trying to build. you're not going to have the full support of key countries like saudi arabia, the u8 and others if you're collaborating with assad. so i think it's a non-starter politically. there will be situations where we have to make a choice whether to strike a target in syria given the second and third order effects. will it actually empower the syrian opposition or will it ultimately empower the assad government? those choices will be tough as this unfolds. >> woodruff: andrew bacevich, what about syria? you hear richard haass saying that's an essential piece of this, that it won't unless syria's involved. where do you come down on this in. >> well, i hear all this discussion about arming and training moderate syrians. i'm not sure how we identify who is a moderate, but i think we
should temper our expectations about what that sort of effort is likely to produce in the near term. i mean, the comparison there is i think iraq, where we spent about eight years trying to train and equip a competent force, and that effort failed. so any expectation that we're going to be able to pull an effective syrian opposition fighting force out of a hat, i just think we should be wary of that. >> woodruff: i was going to say, i want to turn to stephen hadley because, of course, you were working with president bush when he was doing some of what colonel bacevich describes. >> well, you know, it is true that we... the reason iraq fell apart from the relative stability that we had with al qaeda really largely defeated in iraq in 2008, '09 and '10 is because of what happened in syria and not getting on top of that situation early.
so we do have to solve the syria problem, but this has been a long time billing. we're not going to get it done overnight. we need to start and focus on iraq. and then develop the capabilities over time to deal with syria. the point about our principles, the president did talk about standing up for our principles, democracy and freedom is one of them, and it does have a role, because if there is not democracy in iraq in which sunni, shia and kurds can work together, if there is not an inclusive, democratic government if iraq, it won't hold together and we will fail. so our principles have a role in ultimately stabilizing this situation. >> colonel bacevich, do you want to respond quickly to that? >> well, it's just hard for me to take seriously any expectation that the united states has an ability at this point to form that cohesive, unified iraq. guess what? we tried. it failed. >> woodruff: richard haass, i want to come back very quickly here as our time draws to a
close on this question of boots on the ground. we heard susan rice tell gwen that boots on the ground have proved counterproductive. then we heard committee chairman congressman buck mckeon say they are going to be essential, that it's inevitable. who is right on this? >> well, the only american boots on the ground for the most part are going to be special forces in places like syria and then you'll have some trainers and advisers, but you are going to need boots on the ground. i think they're going to have to come from some of the arab countries or from local tribesmen or kurds. it has to be local. it has to be seeny. you can't do this from the air alone. >> woodruff: michele flournoy, what about that? >> i think the principle boots to be ground have to be from iraq and syria, but those should be enabled by our intelligence assets, by our special operations forces, by people who can help to advise and assist them in being more effective on the battlefield, who can help train them, equip them and so forth. i do think that that part of our
force commitment may grow somewhat over time, but i think the president's very determine to keep combat -- u.s. combat units out of the ground part of this campaign. >> woodruff: we're going to leave it there. we thank you all, michele flournoy, colonel andrew bacevich, richard haass, stephen hadley. thank you. >> thank you. >> ifill: the n.f.l. is under new pressure over its handling of the ray rice domestic violence scandal, including calls for the ouster of commissioner roger goodell. but the people who own and run the teams are so far taking a different tack. hari sreenivasan has more from our new york studios. >> sreenivasan: as the ray rice case cast a growing shadow, the n.f.l. last night called in former f.b.i. director robert mueller to investigate its handling of the situation. the announcement came amid
new questions about when league officials first saw images made public this week by tmz sports of rice knocking out his then- fiance, last february. the associated press reported an unnamed law enforcement officer sent the video to the n.f.l. in april. in a voicemail at the time, a woman at a league office confirmed the video arrived and then said: "you're right. it's terrible." earlier wednesday, on cbs news, commissioner roger goodell had again maintained the n.f.l. never saw the video before monday when it became public. > we were not granted that. we were told that was not something we would have access to. on multiple occasions, we asked for it. and on multiple occasions we were told no. >> sreenivasan: but goodell's statements, and his overall handling of the rice matter, raised concerns yesterday even among some players around the league. >> it could have been a better
job done, because if tmz could get it, why couldn't the national football league get it? and for them to be satisfied with a no from the-- whoever they got it from, it's kind of shocking. >> we're all held accountable for our actions as players, certainly every owner should be held accountable for their actions, every-- the commissioner should be held accountable for his actions. in addition, the national organization for women called wednesday for goodell to resign. and today, 16 female senators urged the n.f.l. to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence. rice is now out of the league indefinitely, and goodell's fate may rest on the n.f.l.'s newly announced probe. it will be overseen by pittsburgh steelers president art rooney and new york giants president john mara. up to now, at least, they've been among goodell's strongest supporters. for more context on the latest developments and the league's position we're joined by kavitha davidson who writes about sports for bloomberg view.
>> he's on shakier ground as the days progress frankly. if you had asked me this question on monday, i would probably have told you his job is completely safe and nothing can really topple the most powerful man in sports. i still kind of hold that belief frankly because he makes so much money for these owners who wield so much power, but every day with every new revelation, with every new instance of this cover-up being made public, his job gets more and more in jeopardy. >> so robert mueller being brought in to investigate. how independent is this investigation? >> i think that independence is in the eye of the beholder in this case. robert mueller very respected, former f.b.i. director. served under two different presidents, two different parties. at the same time, the law firm that he works for negotiated the nfl's television deal with directv. take from that what you will. in addition to that, this independent investigation is going to be overseen by giants' owner john mara and pittsburgh steelers' owner art rooney, two of not only the most respected owners in the game but two of the most publicly visible. so i don't think you can call
this purely independent. >> sreenivasan: what kind of money is at stake here for these owners, and what kind of money have they made under the leadership of roger goodell? >> roger goodell has been very good to these owners last. year i believe the nfl brought in $9 billion in revenue. goodell has made it a goal to bring that number up to about $25 billion. so these owners don't have any impetus to oust him on any level. neither do the advertisers frankly either. that's a really unfortunate thing. the c.e.o. of verizon came out today standing by roger goodell saying he's man of great integrity. so really the dollar kind of flows when it comes to what we consider integrity. >> sreenivasan: what are the possibilities when the nfl says that it did not have the video? >> so you really have two black-and-white areas and one kind of gray area. you have the nfl absolutely did not receive the video. i think that we've established with evidence and with the phone call that the associated press
reported that some video was sent to the nfl office. the other side is the nfl saw the video and still came down with a two-game suspension. i think that we don't really want to believe that that's possible, just having seen the video and having seen the brutality that's on that video, that it's possible somebody could watch that and think two games is totally apt for that kind of a crime. the middle ground there is the nfl wanted to maintain some kind of, shall we say, plausible deniability that it was received but there was either willful or unwillful ignorance, a consorted effort not to have the higher-up, including goodell, perhaps, actually view this video so they could come out and say they had not seen it until monday. >> sreenivasan: is he under risk with whatever the results are? a bunch of owners, not just a few, have to vote to get him out. they have a big financial interest in supporting him. >> i believe it's 24 of the 32 owners need to vote in favor of that.
i don't see that happening, even with all that we know. i also don't know if that would solve anything. these are systematic, institutional issues the nfl has. goodell has overseen 56 domestic violence cases since he's taken over as commissioner, and they've resulted in 13 total games of suspension. so the nfl does not take this issue seriously. frankly it would take a lot more than just roger goodell falling on the sword or falling on the shield to institute some kind of systematic change here. >> sreenivasan: the nfl says we have a lower number of arrests and conviction of our players than the general population. >> well, that is true, and i think that if anything this issues gives us an opportunity to discuss not just the nfl's failings in protecting domestic violence victims, but our country's real problem with how we prosecute these individuals and how we deal with these kinds of victims. the problem with that logic is that while the nfl does actually have a lower rate of domestic violence incident, they don't
prosecute and punish as much as the country does. i think 50% of charges that actually go to trial result in convictions in the united states. whereas, as i said, 13 total games suspended for 56 different violations. it's a pretty terrible record when it comes to discipline. >> and ray rice's spotlight has also shined the light on another player from the carolina panthers who was convicted by a judge of domestic violence, but he's suiting up on sunday. >> it's not him. greg hardy and ray mcdonald on the 49ers, the league comes out and says all kinds of things, and they issued a new domestic violence policy two weeks ago that very much excited many of us that seem to be the first step in the league actually taking this issue seriously. yet we see these potential offenders in greg hardy's case, a convicted offender, still suiting up and still stepping on the field on sunday, so you can see how seriously the nfl is taking this. >> so what are the nfl players saying about this? have they come down in support of or in criticism of roger
goodell? >> it has been encouraging to see that the players have been on the right side of this issue. they've been very vocal in either their disappointment in ray rice as a teammate or a fellow nfl player. and in goodell's handling of this affair. but it's kind of sad that it took a video to make that happen. we already had a police report. we already had a previous video of him dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator. so what did we believe really happened? the fact that we allowed ourselves that kind of wiggle room to explain away his actions shows us how much further we have to go on this issue, but, yes, the criticism against their commissioner has been widespread during this week. >> sreenivasan: kavitha davidson of bloomberg, thank you. >> ifill: we have also invited nfl commissioner roger goodell for an interview.
>> woodruff: in the 13 years since the nine eleven attacks, not every question about that day has been answered. potentially explosive revelations that may implicate a key u.s. ally in the attacks, remain hidden from public view, classified and stored beneath the u.s. capitol building. jeffrey brown has our story. it was classified by the george w. bush administration which claimed it hurt the war on terror. but system lawmakers argue the pages reveal little about national security and a great deal about the government of saudi arabia's role in the attack. they say that the pages tell the story of saudi officials meeting with and even funding two of the 9/11 hijackers when they first arrived in the u.s. it's all in a story by lawrence wright in this week's "new yorker" magazine. wright is author of "the looming tower" about events leading to the 9/11 attack. his new book is "13 days in september" and he joins me now.
welcome back, barley wright. so this is a 9/11 story about what we still don't know. put those 28 pages in context first. they're part of the original investigation into what happened, but only a handful of people have seen them, right? >> that's right. right after 9/11, a very unusual congressional enquiry with both the house and the senate intelligence committee chairman convened to find out what had happened. and they did quite a lot of research. this is before the 9/11 commission took effect. and they published their report in 2003, and it was heavily redacted, but there was one entire section, 28 pages, that was taken out entirely. and the bush administration justified it on national security grounds. but congressmen that i've spoken to who have read those 28 pages say it has nothing at all to do with national security, that the bush administration and the relationship with the saudis is
implicated. and they also admit it has something to do with the two saudi hijackers who came to america in january of 2000. >> brown: so part of this centers on what's called "the ministry of islamic affairs," which as you document in your story, is placed inside saudi embassies around the world. the question is really: is there an explicit tie that exists between saudi government or other saudis and the hijackers? >> that's exactly right. and there's a lawsuit, jeff, that's going on right now, which takes the theory that these two hijackers who came from a high-level al qaeda meeting in malaysia in january of 2000 arrived in southern california. they didn't speak english, and their mission was to learn how to fly boeing jets. imagine how difficult that would be. why did they go to southern california? were they meeting someone? well, shortly after they
arrived, they found a ben factor in a saudi man named omar albaumy who lived in san diego. he drove up to los angeles, went to the saudi consulate and there met with an official in the ministry of islamic affairs. and after an hour meeting, he drove to a restaurant in culliver city. and he later claimed that he just happened to be in the restaurant, overheard two men, the future hijackers, speaking in a gulf arabic, and he invited them to move to san diego. he helped them with their rent, set them up in an apartment, introduced them to some key people in the saudi community there and, you know, it's a very interesting relationship that he had. many people in the saudi community, because he often videotaped people and so on, thought he might be a saudi spy. in fact, one of the hijackers
concluded that, as well. >> it should be said that some key people that you talk to, including involved in the 9/11 commission, they had a look at this and they said either they didn't see anything explosive there or they didn't see enough evidence or it looked a little too wild to really point to something explicit. on the other hand, as you say, some key officials, including bipartisan members of congress, think there really is something there. >> right. and i've talked to the 9/11 commissioners, and governor tom kean for instance, he's seen those 28 pages. he thinks they ought to be released. he thinks not just those 28 pages. he says this is just a small part of a much larger story. there's lots of information that that joint enquiry and the 9/11 commission turned up that still has been kept from the american people, for instance, their interviews with president bush, with former president clinton,
with vice president cheney. those still haven't been released. i think after 13 years, the american people can afford to know the truth. >> brown: follow up on that. what's the stated reason for that all these years later why so much of that is still classified and how much of an attempt has there been to open it up? >> well, governor cane and former congressman lee hamilton, the cochairs of the 9/11 commission, have been on a campaign to get that material released. so far to no effect. that is separate from the 28 pages. there's a resolution in congress that has bipartisan support to urge the obama administration to release that portion of the document. there's also a lawsuit. the victims' families are trying to get access to this material because they believe it will support their suit against the saudi government and other saudi entities. >> brown: it's also interesting to note that the
saudis themselves say they would like these 28 pages opened up, right? because maybe to stop the accusations against them. >> exactly. >> brown: what do they say exactly? >> well, prince bandar, who was the ambassador to the u.s. at the time of 9/11, asked for the 28 pages to be declass find when the bush administration withheld them, saying we stand charged with 28 blank pages. we can't respond to the charge. bandar's wife, as it happens, is one of the people that is mentioned in maybe not... i can't say about these 28 pages, but in those two people that helped the hijackers, one of them, omar bayume and osama bosnon, bosnon was receiving money. his wife was receiving money from bandar's wife supposedly for a medical condition. the suit against the saudis alleges that some of that money
found its way into the hands of the hijackers. the f.b.i. wasn't able to establish that. >> brown: all right. all right, lawrence wright's article "the 28 pages" is in "the new yorker." thank you so much. >> it's a pleasure, jeff. thank you. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day. president obama in the main picked up support at home and abroad for the fight against islamic state militants in iraq and syria. the nation marked the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and honored the nearly 3,000 people killed that day. and a judge in south africa ruled out a murder conviction for double amputee olympian oscar pistorius. he still faces a possible conviction on a lesser charge in the shooting death of his girlfriend. >> ifill: on the newshour online right now, an inside look at
what it's like to study black holes at extreme altitude. we sent a reporting team 16,000- plus feet above sea level to the alma observatory, high in the mountains of western chile. you can watch time-lapse videos and view a photo gallery from the trip, on our science page. and the american scholar recently published two lists of the greatest american novels. we've combined them into a mega list of the 200 best. go to our art beat page to tell us which ones you've read, and which titles are missing. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. again, we add these photos as deaths become official and photos made available. here in silence is one more.
>> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on friday, i'll sit down with former president bill clinton for his take on politics and foreign policy this election year, and a legacy of his presidency, americorps. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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